Islamabad: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif while speaking to United States Institute of Peace clearly said that Pakistan don’t need material help from United States of America, we just need respect for what we have contributed in war against terrorism. The core issue between US and Pakistan’s relationship is lack of trust.
While addressing the USIP, he had said that Pakistan is hoping for peace in Afghanistan.
“Ensuring security in Afghanistan is critical for the South Asian region,” he remarked, adding “we will be the biggest beneficiary of peace in Afghanistan.”
“Burden of a 16-year-long war in Afghanistan has now passed to a new Afghanistan,” he said, adding “for Pakistan the timeline of managing the fallout of Afghanistan’s instability is 30 years and still counting. This is more than half of our life as an independent country.”
It is the responsibility of all parties to initiate a political process, he said, adding that Pakistan seeks “productive relations” with Afghanistan which include the elimination of safe havens in Afghanistan and border management.
Pakistan feels that US and Pakistan must actively work towards peace in South Asia, he added.
Thanking USIP for the invitation, he remarked that the current world is full of “chronic challenges” such as long wars, climate change, under development, global migration and, rising intolerance and extremism along with the global menace of terrorism, which claims hundreds of lives every year.
History places an onerous burden on our shoulders to produce a better tomorrow from the disarray of our current times.”
“I am honoured to represent a country that is overcoming challenges of disarray and wishes to build a partnership for a secure and prosperous future,” he said, adding that “terrorism is being rigorously battled” in the country.
“Lately, there has been a tendency to place Pakistan’s counterterrorism credentials under focus. The truth is that Pakistan is not just fighting but also winning against terrorism,” he pointed out.
“Four years ago, Pakistan had one the highest incidences of terrorism anywhere in the world. Pakistan responded to this tide of terrorism by building a strategic national consensus on a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy.”
He added, “our troops have bravely soldiered in terrain that has deceived visitors for centuries. What is often forgotten is that Pakistan has been conducting a series of major counter-terrorism operations for over a decade and has progressively secured all territory on its side of the border.”
Pakistan’s successes in the fight against terrorism have come at a staggering human and financial cost; adding that it has resulted in over 62,000 casualties, over $120 billion in economic costs over 16 years and with large-scale deployment of security personnel for counter-terrorism.
“From thousands of nameless Pakistanis to kids like the 17 years old Malala Yousufzai, the Nobel laureate and 15 years old Aitzaz Hassan, the school boy who died while protecting his class fellows – to the 22 years old Lt Arsalan Alam who was martyred last month by terrorists attacking from Afghanistan – we have a long list of heroes in every town,” the foreign minister said.
He also said that Pakistan requires a recognition, by both Pakistan and US, of each other’s sacrifices in the war against terrorism. “We will continue to work for peace and stability.”
Asif also spoke about the plight of people in Kashmir during his address. “Kashmiris have faced all forms and manifestations of state-sponsored terrorism.”
“The plight of Kashmiris in Indian occupied Kashmir cannot be ignored by the international community. As the time has passed the brutality of Indian security forces has increased and the civility of Indian occupation has diminished,” he said.
In the interest of peace, Pakistan can normalise relations with India, he remarked. However, “normalisation requires that India stops its support to terrorism in Pakistan and agrees to hold unconditional dialogue on all matters of mutual concern including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.”